Recent work has been based on leaf motifs, particularly oak leaves,
which are very appropriate to the Derbyshire countryside where I live.
Drawings are used to embellish surfaces of the pots; particular
favourites are chickens and fish. Graphic lines are used to represent
the creatures, not as a direct replication of the real thing but by
abstracting their essential qualities. Images of fruits are also a
great source of inspiration, and I am continually intrigued by the way
fat pears 'sit' or oval lemons 'lie'.
Work generally available from:
The Harley Gallery
Rufford Craft Centre
Ropewalk Contemporary Art and Craft, North Lincolnshire
Most of the work is thrown on a momentum wheel, which I made at Chesterfield College of Art and Technology in the 1970s. I enjoy the relaxed rhythm and the quietness of the flywheel, as it is the only way to hear Radio 4 without interference! The wheel is built to exactly accommodate my frame and is therefore extremely comfortable. Altering and shaping thrown forms have always fascinated me. Consequently many of my pots are made into oval, rectangular or heart shapes.
The pots are decorated either with thin white slip, which lets the colour of the earthenware body through, or with thick slip that is brushed on to the pot while it is rotating on the wheel. Over the past years I have experimented with combinations of paper resist, first cutting and then tearing the paper to give a softer effect, then using colour infill and slip trailing to decorate with. Having decided that the surfaces I had been creating had become static with colours that looked too dense, I began exploring the qualities inherent in my materials such as pouring slips thinly to let the colour of the body show through or applying white slip very thickly with a brush while the pot is rotating on the wheel to give a 'wrapped' look.
At present I am using paper to mask an area to decorate, which gives a greater flexibility for variation and experimentation. Using brush marks, highlighted with scraffito has created a greater sense of movement and a fresh perspective. I am always on the look out for new brushes or a way of applying slip - my two favourite brushes at the moment are a coarse pastry brush and another made from dried grass collected from the beach on Anglesey, North Wales. Many of the pots are decorated with coloured glazes used thinly but with detail in thick, rather like applying watercolour, moving from light to dark.
All the pots are made in earthenware clay, decorated and finally raw glazed at leather hard before being fired to Cone 03 (about 1085°C). I am still using the original 12 cu. ft. electric kiln I bought in 1978, which I have lugged round with me ever since. Hopefully it is in its final resting place now I have moved into a workshop at home in the garden. See Single Fire by Fran Tristram for further information about raw glazing techniques.
Pots in the Kitchen - Hardcover - (27 September, 2002) 176 pages, over 300 colour photographs. Crowood Press. Pots in the Kitchen is a celebration of useful pots, compiled not only as an inspiration to students, potters and collectors, but also as an encouragement to cooks, to stimulate an interest and better understanding of handmade pottery.
Josie is a regular contributer to Ceramic Review writing articles about pots and potters. Some of her most recent profiles of potters include Richard Godfrey and Sean Miller
After a degree in Anthropology at University College, London, Josie went to Leicester University where she trained to be a secondary school teacher. Josie taught for four years in schools in Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire, before she began working with clay. What started out as evening class diversion became a real passion and in 1976 she enrolled on the Studio Ceramics course at Chesterfield College of Art. After three years of throwing, building kilns, visiting potters and generally being immersed in pottery, Josie opened a workshop in Matlock with a fellow student at Chesterfield, John Gibson.
Josie soon realised that she needed further experience in production throwing and running a business, so spotting an advert in Ceramic Review magazine, she applied for a job working for Suzie and Nigel Atkins at the Poterie du Don in the Auvergne, France. Josie worked at Le Don as an apprentice for 6 months in 1980 making salt glazed domestic ware, then returned to the workshop in Matlock where she made once fired decorated earthenware pottery.
When the lease ran out on the Matlock workshop, John and his wife Judy moved with their son John Morgan to the island of Bornholm in Denmark, while Josie relocated to a workshop three miles up the road in Cromford, where she made pots for the next 10 years. Now Josie is happily installed in a workshop that she had built in the garden at home.
In 1996 Josie went back to college part time to study for an MA in History of Ceramics at Staffordshire University, which has given her new opportunities in writing about history as well as curating exhibitions of historical pots, such as Brampton kitchenware.
Besides making pots, Josie also teaches Historical and Theoretical Studies part time at Derby University. She also gets to see her old chum John Gibson who is now Head of Ceramics at the Glas & Keramikskolen on Bornholm when she goes out to teach ceramics there for three weeks in April/May.
Josie also demonstrates and gives slide talks about her work for potters groups, colleges and summer schools. This year she will be in Canada at MISSA (Metchosin International Summer School of the Arts) in Victoria 7-11th July and at Red Deer College, Alberta from 14-18th July.
Please contact Josie if your group/school/college would be interested in a slide talk or a workshop.